LEXINGTON, Ky. - Arkansas was on the verge of winning its first two road games in the SEC. The Razorbacks were close to putting "believe" in the vocabulary of both them and their fans.
But after blowing a 20-7 lead in the final seven minutes to hand Kentucky a 21-20 triumph, disbelief seemed to be the theme for all that came to the interview room under Commonwealth Stadium late Saturday night.
"That's the feeling we had in the locker room afterwards, just disbelief,"defensive tackle Malcolm Sheppard said. "We were right there, to a point that I had thoughts of a celebration in the locker room. I thought it would be a fun flight home.
"What we got was dead silence. To be honest, it took me a couple of minutes of sitting there to figure out exactly what happened.
"We should have won. I'd rather get blowed out."
In fact, it could have been an Arkansas blowout. The Razorbacks missed chance after chance to put the game away.
"We had ‘em," offensive coordinator Paul Petrino said. "Then we started making mistakes and handed it to them. We should have been way ahead. We
didn't come away far enough ahead in that first quarter."
Petrino didn't point fingers, but he lamented a poor night in the passing game. It was the first time the Hogs seemed out of sync in the throwing
game this season.
"I thought there were times we didn't get open," Petrino said. "Then, when we did, we didn't put the ball in their hands. We ran it well. We just
didn't get the passing game going."
The Hogs made too many mistakes. Four turnovers and 13 penalties doomed them in the end.
"We did a good job up front blocking them for three quarters and part of the fourth," center Jonathan Luigs said. "We thought we could run on them. We did run on them. We wanted to go right at them. We blocked them for most of the night. But there were a lot of flags in the second half. That really hurt us. Those are mistakes that hurt.
"We had them about ready to quit, then we made a lot of mistakes. Anytime you have a team down 17-0 -- I just don't have words to say right now."
There was disbelief on the eight second-half penalties.
Bobby Petrino said,"That's a lot and they all seemed to be coming from the same side of the
field." Asked to clarify, Petrino repeated, "I said they were all from the same side of the field."
The Hogs had not been in double digits on penalties all season. They had only six at Auburn, just five against Alabama. The most all season was nine against Florida.
Paul Petrino, who works from the press box, said "some of them were legit."
He saw some as they happened. He didn't finish what he thought of the others.
"A couple -- I better not say anything else," he said. "We had a lot."
Quarterback Casey Dick took the blame for several illegal shift penalties, including one which wiped out what might have been a clinching touchdown run. The Hogs later settled for a field goal.
"I guess we weren't getting set at the line," Dick said. "It's my job to make sure everyone is set. We have to find a way to put it in the end zone. We had the game under control and didn't make the plays when we had to make
No doubt, one of the keys was not having their playmaker down the stretch.
Players tiptoed around the De'Anthony Curtis fumble that gave Kentucky life
late in the fourth quarter. But it was clear that play turned the momentum.
"Nothing against De'Anthony, but if we had Mike at the end, he was going to run off a couple of first downs and the game was over," Sheppard said.
"Things shifted with Mike out and that gave their sideline some hope. They didn't have any until then."
Paul Petrino didn't go there.
"We have been putting too much on Mike all year," he said. "It's time for someone else to step up. We win as a team and lose as a team. This was a
State of the Hogs: KO'd In Kentucky
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